We’re a generation weaned on the idea that we’re all special snowflakes, different from one another, moving inevitably towards the Job Of Our Dreams, the Life Of Our Dreams, and the World Of Our Dreams. But now we’re moving home in greater numbers, living through a recession that puts Generation X post-collegial whining into its proper bitching about nothing context, all while spending our days trying to save the World We Were Promised from a world of Street Sharks Netflix marathons, underpaying jobs we’re overqualified for and cheap drugs. We’re a nostalgic bunch, longingly staring back to the time when our own success was guaranteed by teachers, parents and TV shows, wishing things were as great as they were when we were in elementary school and the World Would Be Ours.
Which is to say the world—at least the college-educated world that exists on the Internet that listens to albums by guitar bands from Rhode Island—has never been more primed for an album that says, 90 seconds in, “All I know, I learned in kindergarten.” That can’t possibly be true— we don’t learn the economy is built to fuck us until college—but it hits a sentiment that millions of chillwave bands couldn’t: Things used to be so much better when they were simpler. That Fang Island later howl “I have seen too much too fast” on their solid sophomore album, Major, is almost overkill; once you say what a generation has been thinking since they became overeducated for an economy that doesn’t exist, what’s left to say, really?
That Fang Island are class of 2012 Big Feelings sloganeers is nothing new; their 2010 self-titled album was a guitar fireworks implosion that was the musical equivalent of that N64 fist-pumping kid, a record that was built for momentous moments amongst your bros, filling the ample void between Japandroids albums. With Major though, there’s an emphasis on words; maybe the criticism of them just plugging in guitars and setting shit to explosive and letting it rip got to them. So while Major still crackles with more Looney Tune guitar solos than I care to count, this album is filled with lines like “I hope I never understand” and “I want to see the world for what it is” and songs with titles like “Asunder” and “Chime Out.” The words actually matter this time out, too, as if the incomprehensible lyrics of the last set were all raw emotions, and the lyrics on Major are putting words to those emotions.
The move towards less instrumental Feelings pieces is probably a net positive for Fang Island, since a song consisting of six guitar solos doesn’t always bring them out in 2012. But the real success of Major is how easily and willfully it nails this brand of heart on sleeve contemplation. The relentless positive attitude might come off grating, but there are few bands as sincere as Fang Island—check this straight-faced cover of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” for proof. Non-ironic sincerity is a dying breed after all—how can it not be, in times like this?—and you will not hear another album as straight-forward, unburdened by emotional distance and downright open as this one this year. And that’s Major.